Over the last decade, a growing number of the services that we use every day have made their way onto the online arena. It was once unthinkable that we would be able to order products from our armchairs and have them delivered to our front doors. Yet this is now so utterly mundane that we don’t give a second thought to what a radical departure it represents from what came before.
Education is just another service that has moved online. Of course, most education still occurs offline in schools and universities. However, the number of students of all ages choosing to study their university degrees online is growing by the year.
What Are the Benefits of Distance Learning?
Some of the benefits of distance learning are easy to grasp. For example, if you are doing your coursework and your revision from a laptop, and you don’t have to attend a physical lecture hall, you can just stream your lectures online instead, and you can make wherever you choose your place of study. Whether you prefer to study from your bedroom, or from the local library, or even a coffee shop, the choice is entirely yours.
In addition to the added freedom that a distance learning course affords you, it also provides a more flexible approach to studying. For many people, distance learning has been a life-changing innovation, as it has enabled them to continue their education where they would otherwise have been unable to do so. For example, single parents who would not be able to commit themselves to regularly attending university can earn their degree through distance learning.
This added flexibility also means that many distance learning students are learning while continuing to work at a job. Most universities who offer online courses will also give students the option of whether to study full-time or part-time. Coupled with the already lower costs of tuition for an online degree, studying a distance learning course can be significantly more affordable than a regular university.
Finally, learning remotely means that you are not restricted to universities that you can physically access. You could study an online degree with the university on the other side of the country, and it would not make a difference.
What Are the Obstacles?
Completing any university degree is going to present a challenge, no matter how intelligent you are. However, the challenges facing remote learning students are unique and somewhat different from those facing other students. There will be lots of commonalities between the two experiences, but a remote learning student is going to have to be an even more proficient independent learner.
In order to succeed in a distance learning course, students will need to have plenty of self-motivation and be able to persevere through any challenges they face. Universities that offer online courses will also provide online students with a portal through which they can communicate with a tutor as well as other students, so students will still have some support from the university.
Students who find it difficult to motivate and organise themselves may find distance learning to be difficult. For distance learning students, there is not going to be a tutor or other authority figure pushing them in the right direction.
Top Tips for Distance Learners
No matter what subject you choose to study, distance learning is a challenging but ultimately very rewarding experience. If you think that distance learning is the right option for you, here are some tips that most students wish they’d known going in.
Choose the Right Course
One definite similarity between distance learning and regular learning is that if you are trying to make yourself study a subject that you don’t really care about, you are going to struggle. Staying on top of all your commitments and keeping yourself motivated will be a challenge anyway. But if you are doing it in the service of something that you are not passionate about, it is going to be an even greater burden.
On the other hand, if you apply to study something that you are passionate about and genuinely care about, you will have the joy of being able to immerse yourself in it all day. Some students study a subject because it is something that they care about on a personal level. Others will choose to study online M.B.A. programs at schools like Aston University that will boost their career prospectswhile they continue to work at another job.
Distance learning gives you the freedom and flexibility that a regular university course cannot offer. Take advantage of this and find the course that speaks to you the most.
Create a Dedicated Study Space
Having a dedicated space in your home where you can revise and work in peace is essential for any distance learner. Of course, now and then you will want to take advantage of the additional flexibility and take your studies outside with you – you might even want to work from bed now and then! However, you should still give yourself a dedicated study space and fit it with everything you need to stay focused and productive.
Engage with Other Students
Many students make the mistake of assuming that the distance learning course means no interaction with other students. On the contrary, universities have drastically improved the tools that they provide distance learning students to communicate with one another. At the very least, you can expect to find a student message board available through the university’s online portal. This gives you an opportunity to interact with other students, socialise, and exchange ideas.
Don’t forget that this tool is available to you. Just as a regular university course is much less fun when you don’t have contact with other students, a distance learning course will quickly become isolating if you don’t take advantage of the ability to communicate with other students.
Distance learning courses are an excellent option for many people. They are great for young people who want to be able to start working while they learn, and for those who would otherwise be unable to access higher education. Who knows what 2020 will hold for the sector? What we do know is that there has never been a better time to enrol in an online university course.